The investigation is based on documents of Mossack Fonseca (Panama BVІ), obtained by the German Süddeutsche Zeitung news outlet and shared with their colleagues from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which closely cooperates with its Ukrainian partner Slidstvo.Info.
The tallest building in Odesa, the skyscrapers of the upscale residential compound Arch Palace are covering half of the sky. They have been raised by the ROST Group, often associated with Odesa Mayor Hennadii Trukhanov, who denies everything.
The journalists managed to talk to Trukhanov three years ago on his involvement in this business. He was a member of the Ukrainian parliament then and denied any involvement in this business.
Hennadii Trukhanov became the mayor of Odesa a year later. The ROST Group has also developed successfully. The enterprise gets most of the contracts for road repairs in Odesa and many in Kyiv, while Trukhanov controls many deputies of the Odesa City Council, which allows him to steamroll important decisions, including land-related.
Trukhanov started his career in turbulent 90s.
Like Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko, Odesa Mayor Hennadii Trukhanov entered politics from the martial arts. The easiest way to do well in the beginning of the criminal 90th was to become a security guard or a member of a criminal gang. Trukhanov and his friends founded private security company named Kapitan (captain). "Hence the nickname "Captain" has been coined to Trukhanov for years to come. Captain and his team were lucky: Leonid Minin - one of the most influential persons of criminal Odesa - became their client.
Minin controlled the Odesa Sea Port and transshipment of weapons through it. By the way, he was the one who became the prototype of character played by Nicolas Cage in the movie "Lord of War".
Leonid Minin's criminal group was loading weapons on ships in the Odesa Sea Port 20 years ago, which then were delivered to all planet's hot spots.
According to Italian police, the Odesa crime group was run by several key individuals besides Minin: his right hand man Oleksandr Angert, nicknamed "Angel", Oleksandr Zhukov, who was in charge of finance, and Hennadii Trukhanov, who was Minin's personal bodyguard accompanying him around the world with a Greek passport with the name Gennidas Ouzopoulus.
Leonid Minin was arrested by the Italian police in 2000. He received a long prison sentence. Oleksandr Angert settled in Israel and Oleksandr Zhukov moved to London, where his daughter became the common-law wife of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Hennadii Trukhanov was the only one from the whole team who remained in Odesa. And he quickly proved that he was not going to climb down.
"Self-nominated Hennadii Trukhanov was recognized the elected mayor of Odesa."
But the journalists have recently learned new facts from the life of the Odesa mayor. Hennadii Trukhanov's name is repeatedly mentioned in the documents and correspondence of the Panamanian offshore registrar Mossack Fonseca. According to these documents, companies based on the British Virgin Islands, whose founder is the mayor, run many businesses in Ukraine.
Part of the premises in this most expensive residential compound in Odessa belongs to Vynni Tradytsii, which, in turn, is owned by a company from Virgin Islands. Here is an extract for lawyers reading that the founders of this company are Andrii Ivancho and Odesa Mayor Hennadii Trukhanov.
The company registered on Virgin Islands is called Macon Assets Limited, and its co-owner Andrii Ivancho is Hennadii Trukhanov's longtime friend. They founded the Kapitan security company in the 90's. Ivancho worked as an assistant at the future mayor of Odesa, back when he was an MP. Andrii Ivancho together with Trukhanov's daughter Kateryna manages Skvo firm, which developed residential compound and has been selling its premises.
Besides Macon Assets Limited, the name of Hennadii Trukhanov and his friends are mentioned in other Virginian companies. In particular, according to documents, besides Odesa mayor and Andrii Ivancho, shares in Corderoy Trading Limited are also owned by Yurii Schumacher. He is a Member of the Odesa City Council elected as member of Trukhanov's party. But prior to the seat in the city council, Schumacher was CEO of the above mentioned ROST Group.
Arkadii Topov, Anticorruption Office project activist says: "The cost of repairs of roads in Odesa has increased five-fold in recent years. While it was 66 million hryvnias in 2013, it is planned to allocate as many as 374 million in 2016! There are 10 contracts, which price exceeds 20 million hryvnias. Eight of these 10 contracts have been won by ROSTDORSTROY."
Through Virginian offshore companies, Hennadii Trukhanov controls different subsidiaries of ROST Group involved not only in repair of roads or the construction of super-expensive housing, but also development of apartments for the middle class.
The new residential compound on the Prokhorivska Street is also part of Odesa Mayor Trukhanov's empire. He controls it through another offshore company Hemes Group Limited.
Insurance, construction of country mansions and legal services - the journalists have counted more than 20 companies associated with the Odesa mayor and his closest associates through Virginian offshore companies. But the most interesting fact is that Hennadii Trukhanov is indicated in all the registration documents not as a citizen of Ukraine. He has a different registration - the Russian one!
Moscow region, Sergiev Posad, 5 Park Street. The address is apparently used for registration only.
There were rumors of the Russian citizenship of the Odesa mayor before. Two years ago, Ukrainian MP Volodymyr Ariev posted copies of documents of the Federal Migration Service of Russia on Facebook, according to which the mayor of Odesa had two Russian passports - one with registration in Dagestan, the other one - in Sergiev Posad.
Odesa mayor refused to grant us an interview through his spokesperson over the phone. Though, our personal visit to him may change his mind and he will talk about his involvement in a number of offshore companies registered on the British Virgin Islands.
So, Hennadii Trukhanov has a chance to become another Ukrainian official, who strongly and persistently denies facts obtained by investigative journalists while he, like other individuals, will possibly seek refuge in Russia consequently. And judging from the documents received by the journalists, a hearty welcome awaits him there.